Today is Wednesday, Aug. 11, the 224th day of 2004. There are 142 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Aug. 11, 1909, the SOS distress signal was first used by an American ship, the Arapahoe, off Cape Hatteras, N.C.

On this date:

In 1860, the nation's first successful silver mill began operation near Virginia City, Nev.

In 1934, the first federal prisoners arrived at the island prison Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay.

In 1942, during World War II, Vichy government official Pierre Laval publicly declared that "the hour of liberation for France is the hour when Germany wins the war."

In 1956, abstract painter Jackson Pollock died in an automobile accident in East Hampton, N.Y.

In 1962, the Soviet Union launched cosmonaut Andrian Nikolayev on a 94-hour flight.

In 1965, rioting and looting that claimed 34 lives broke out in the predominantly black Watts section of Los Angeles.

In 1978, chiefs of state and foreign dignitaries arrived in Vatican City for the funeral of Pope Paul VI.

In 1984, President Reagan joked during a voice test for a paid political radio address that he had "signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes."

In 1992, the Mall of America, the biggest shopping mall in the U.S., opened in Bloomington, Minn.

In 1997, President Clinton made the first use of the historic line-item veto approved by Congress, rejecting three items in spending and tax bills. (However, the Supreme Court later struck down the line-item veto as unconstitutional.)

Ten years ago: A federal jury awarded more than 10,000 commercial fishermen $286.8 million for losses suffered as a result of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. The Tenth International Conference on AIDS concluded in Yokohama, Japan.

Five years ago: White supremacist Buford O. Furrow, wanted in the wounding of five people at a Los Angeles Jewish community center and the shooting death of a mail carrier the day before, turned himself in to the FBI in Las Vegas, and waived extradition to Los Angeles. (Furrow is serving life in prison.) A tornado tore across Salt Lake City, killing one person.

One year ago: President Bush chose Utah Governor Mike Leavitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency. NATO took command of the 5,000-strong peacekeeping force in Afghanistan. Charles Taylor resigned as Liberia's president and went into exile in Nigeria. Herb Brooks, who coached the U.S. Olympic hockey team to the "Miracle on Ice" victory over the Soviet Union in 1980, died in a car wreck near Minneapolis at age 66.

Today's Birthdays: Actress Jean Parker is 92. Former T.V. talk show host Mike Douglas is 79. Actress Arlene Dahl is 76. Reverend Jerry Falwell is 71. Actress Anna Massey is 67. Songwriter-producer Kenny Gamble is 61. Rock musician Jim Kale (Guess Who) is 61. Country singer John Conlee is 58. Singer Eric Carmen is 55. Wrestler-actor Hulk Hogan is 51. Singer Joe Jackson is 50. Actor Miguel A. Nunez Jr. is 40. Actor-host Joe Rogan is 37. Rock guitarist Charlie Sexton is 36. Rhythm and blues musician Chris Dave (Mint Condition) is 36. Hip-hop artist Ali Shaheed Muhammad is 34. Actor Will Friedle is 28. Rapper Chris Kelly (Kris Kross) is 26. Singer J-Boog (B2K) is 19.

Thought for Today: "Conceit is God's gift to little men." - Bruce Barton, American advertising executive (1886-1967).

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